In 2020, the National Women’s Soccer League broke viewership records by nearly 300%, drawing audiences on par with an MLB game airing at the same time. Increased interest in the women’s cup was spurred by the US’s 2019 World Cup win. Additionally, CBS aired the first and last games on regular TV rather than their subscription service. When women’s sports is given premium broadcasting, it delivers on drawing crowds. The business of women’s sports is booming.
This proves that viewers want women’s sports. 66% of people are interested in at least one women’s sport, as are 84% of sports fans. Despite stereotypes, sports fans are almost evenly divided between men and women. Despite the interest, only half of the sports governing bodies have a boardroom with even 25% women. On average, female athletes are earning 63% of their male counterparts. In 2020, Forbes’ 50 highest paid athletes included a single woman: Naomi Osaka in spot #29.
When it comes to ending the inequality, media coverage of female sports and female athletes is key. In 2020, women made up 40% of sports people, but they received only 4% of the sports media coverage. In both print and broadcasting, women’s sports receive less coverage despite both their actual and potential for giant fanbases. This factors into earnings because lack of media coverage impacts sponsorships. Despite huge gains in recent years, just 0.4% of sponsorship dollars go to women’s sports.
“The fact that it’s 2021 and the WNBA and NCAA women’s sports are treated like some sort of rec league specialty sport like the national corn hole league is is beyond disgusting, it’s time to stand up and bring true equality to sports.” Eric Mitchell – CEO, LifeFlip Media
If media technology made women’s sports available to more people, both brands and athletes could profit immensely. 1 in 5 people are more influenced by sponsorship of women’s sports than men’s. Even with current limits in place, 3 in 4 people interested in women’s sports can name at least one brand involved. 63% of people in general believe brands should invest in both women’s and men’s sports. It’s time to step it up.